Fatwa for Falafel


Raj wanted falafel, but not just any falafel–he wanted the best, most highly rated falafel in ALL of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. After a short visit to Jerash (second time around), we headed downtown toward Hashem Restaurant, an institution in Amman since 1956. (Note: downtown is the area near the Citadel (it took us three weekends to find the Citadel), near the flea markets ON the street–a particularly frustrating and confusing place to drive; not a smart move given the fact that Raj was already hungry (Remember, Raj gets ‘hangry’ (hungry plus angry) when his blood sugar levels dip and I didn’t have any ‘snack packs’ to tide him over–a particularly vulnerable position to be in).

Invariably, we had difficulty locating the elusive Hashem’s. I was getting worried because at this point I was hungry, imagining how Raj had to be starving. We drove around searching for about thirty minutes–at this point I was ready to give up and go ANYWHERE…but Raj was undeterred. Lucky for us, Raj’s friend who accompanied us is an Arabic speaker and he helped us out tremendously along the route asking passers-by for directions. Eventually we found it, no small feat since the signs for Hashem are in Arabic (except for the one above which faces away from the street).

Quick day trip to the Roman ruins at Jerash
Nubian goats at Jerash (they have "Roman' noses, seriously)

The restaurant is outside in a little alley way along a busy street. It’s certainly not fancy, perhaps a little dingy (euphemism for dirty), but very busy and FULL of Westerners. If you’re persnickety, RUN (or bring along lots of hand sanitizer and wipes to quell the neatniks you may be traveling with–I forgot mine and admit I was bothered). There are no plates here (probably a good thing), just thin paper used in place of plates. You may be surprised that I ate here with my history of ‘street-food’ syndrome, but what was I supposed to do? We were ALL starving!

View from Hashem's

I’m not sure what we ordered (our friend ordered for us), but it seems that everyone around us got the same thing: a basket of small meatball sized falafel, another basket of larger falafel covered in sesame seeds, a handful of steaming hot pita bread, tomatoes and onions, tea with mint, hummus, and fuul (fava-bean paste).

The verdict? It was all very good AND for three of us it cost only $6 JD’s. (Imagine how happy that made Raj, see below?) Best of all, no one got sick and I’ve agreed that we need to go back (although this time I’ll come equipped with hand sanitizer and maybe some wipes for the table top and chairs).

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18 thoughts on “Fatwa for Falafel

  1. You make me want to go in search of Falafel although I’m sure it would not be as good as that found at Hashem Restaurant. ( I relate to the need for hand and table wipes.) Tonight’s dinner will be at The Olive Garden with neighbors across the street. Not quite the same I’m afraid.

  2. Explain Fatwa- doesn’t that mean death wish? If so okay I get it., the hand sanitizer fear of street food thing. Had my first falafel in Fremont near Seattle. Loved it. Tried making it from a mix I bought at the Persian market. It was terrible. Still looking for great falafel in the OC.

  3. I thought the food looked kind of interesting. I did see french fries in one of the pictures and I liked the looks of the buns with sesame seeds, as for the rest doesn’t look that appetizing. Raj did have on a happy face due to the cost of dinner and a full belly. I loved the pictures of the Roman Ruins at Jerish. Imagine running into a goat herd like that in the U.S. Enjoy every adventure.
    Mom

  4. Yes, the look on Raj’s face spelled”HAPPY CAMPER”. You see what food will do for your spirit. The food looked ok and I will take your word for it’s goodness.. If it puts a smile on Raj’s face, that’s what is important.. The location looked like the place I took the family in TJ, Mexico.. If you remember I asked you, Nicole and your mother if you all would rather eat where we were in TJ on a busy street without a good bathroom, Or, The Del Coronado and the answer was, “THE DEL”. So much for our adventure.. I am glad you are experiencing as much as you can while you can.. I was very surprised each time I look at the blog at the amount of ruins there.. Talk about busy beavers. And yes the goats I loved… Dad

  5. Oh delicious Falafel! The most amazing falafel I’ve ever eaten was from a outdoor vendor in Aleppo, Syria. It cost the equivalent of 14 British pence!
    We loved mouching around Amman for fresh juice stalls, Jerash was such a highlight of our trip to Jordan. I was so pleased that I could ‘read’ the Arabic at the bus station to get on the right bus out there. Such amazing ruins, there were Jordanian bagpipers piping Amazing Grace in the ampitheatre, it was so surreal! Great post, I love following you 🙂

      1. We were there for a few days in January 2008. We took the Train from Istanbul to Aleppo, then bused it thorugh Syria and Jordan to Aqaba; then ferry to Egypt. Amazing! Pomegranites forever remind me 🙂

        1. It’s too bad we won’t be visiting Syria. I’ve heard so many amazing stories about the souks, the food, and the sights. You’re lucky to have visited when you did.

  6. I loved reading this post! The most delicious falafel I ever had was in Paris, rue des Rosiers, in St Paul area; it’s called “L’As du Falafel” (Falafel Ace) and it’s really delicious!! My first one was when I was about 19 years old, and since then every time I have been to Paris, I NEEDED to go there! It’s an Institution and I advice everybody to go there if you have a chance to be in Paris 🙂

  7. Falafel is usually my go too, either after a big night out or the next day! I’ve never tried making them at home but I imagine with wonderful establishments with falafel on offer near you, (you’d) eat out too!

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